JOHANNESBURG– President Cyril Ramaphosa has hailed the first decade of the existence of the BRICS grouping of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa as a major success in the global developmental agenda.

Addressing the opening of the BRICS Business Summit here, the South African head of State said that over the past ten years, the bloc had made enormous strides in a number of co-operation areas including climate change and promoting sustainable development.

The Business Summit is being held in conjunction with the 10 annual BRICS Summit of Heads of State and Government which is taking place here from Wednesday to Friday. The BRICS leaders will receive a consolidated report of the BRICS Business Council on the work done on BRICS co-operation at the business level over the past year.

Trade and investment among BRICS members has been growing impressively over the last few years, averaging 5.1 per cent last year. India and China are growing faster than the rest of the other BRICS countries.

Other achievements made by BRICS include the BRICS Bank. Since its formation the bank has disbursed loans totalling 5.1 billion US dollars, with approvals amounting to 1.7 billion USD this year alone.

Intra-BRICS co-operation has been gaining momentum in areas such as finance, agriculture, trade, combating transnational crime, science and technology, health, education, security and academic dialogue. One of the most important achievements of the first decade of BRICS was the establishment of the New Development Bank, which fills a critical gap in project funding, President Ramaphosa said.

Chinese President Xi Jin Ping warned that there would be no winner in any global trade war. China explained its position regarding the current trade war it is facing with the United States.

US President Donald Trump has imposed tariff increases on more than 500 billion USD of Chinese goods exported to the US. Xi said protectionism will severely blow the prospects of multilateral trading regime.

The international community has again reached a new cross roads. Should a trade war be rejected there will be no winner,” he added.

South Africa’s Minister of Trade and Industry, Rob Davies, highlighted to delegates achievements made over the past five years by BRICS countries in the area of co-operation around trade and investment relations. He says trade between BRICs needs to increase.

And then we have developed a number of additional sectorial engagements which are relevant to different parts of our programme. But in the area of trade and investment relations, I think the two that stand out is that we now have regular meetings of industry ministers as well as now small business ministers. We noted that intra-BRICs investment remains a relatively small part of total BRICS investment. In fact the figure that we became aware of is that its six percent of total BRICS foreign investment. And this points to the need to strengthen investment relations.

This is the first time President Ramaphosa has hosted the summit following his election as President in February. The summit is expected to strengthen relationships between BRICS members and Africa and BRICS leaders are also interacting with other African Presidents who have been invited to attend the summit.